Feed Me

Monday, August 27, 2012

I love to eat. I know, I know. You're saying you love to eat, too. But I love to eat in, well, a rather epic fashion. I love the way food looks - I photograph darn near everything I eat for Instagram because I love the colors and the presentation and the delight of gazing upon a plate of food before digging in. I love the anticipation of the first bite, the dreamy way all the tastes mingle in my mouth, and knowing there will be another equally delicious bite to follow. When the waiter asks, "Did anyone leave room for dessert?" I'm the one nodding my head. I love thinking about eating. I love talking about eating. I love eating.

I do not, however, love cooking.

As a Southern woman, I thought for sure that a love for cooking would be bred - or rather breaded and deep-fried - into my DNA. My mother is a legendary cook who bakes bread from scratch and has only ever made one terrible dish and that was the stuffed cabbage when I was about 8 and bless her heart we've never let her forget it. But suffice it to say, I was never forced to chew dry lifeless chicken or unseasoned vegetables or watery soups. I grew up in a Culinary Utopia.

But apparently, my siblings took all the cooking chops before I got there. Anna can bake a cake like a boss, and Justin can grill anything that once stood on four legs, two legs or no legs to mouth-watering perfection. Me? I can boil water and add noodles.

I thought that one day, my culinary sensibilities would mature. That I would walk into the kitchen and feel inspired to chop and dice and sautee. But mostly, I feel inspired to microwave.

At my most recent doctor's visit, I discovered I had high cholesterol. And seeing as how I trained for a 5K and maintained a pretty rigorous walking schedule (until recently), I knew the culprit was my habit of skipping past my kitchen altogether and heading out to lunch and dinner at every restaurant in town. It's clogging my arteries and my waistband. Truth? I look a little like the Stay-Puft version of myself in some of my sister's wedding photos. So instead of letting you turn your proton packs on me and shower the general area with marshmallowy goodness, I'm asking you - yes, you! -  to help me learn to cook.

I know some of you would suggest that I turn this cooking deficiency into a hobby. Take a class! Read a book! Learn something new! But, let's be real. I'm just hungry. Not thrill-seeking. I have no aspirations to be The Next Iron Chef. Think Tin Foil Chef on a good day and Saran Wrap Line Cook  most other days. I would love for you to share your favorite recipes that fall into the following parameters:
  1. It must be simple. I'm not trying to become a flambe artist, so let's keep the cooking instructions basic.
  2. It must be limited. Ingredient wise. Let's say 10 ingredients or less - bonus points for less! If the ingredient list is longer than you'd want to type, it's probably more than I want to put in a bowl.
  3. It must be (relatively) healthy. While I'd love to sample your deep-fried cream cheese butter balls with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces, I'm perfectly capable of finding sinful things to put in my mouth, and hence on my hips.
  4. It must respect my time. I can watch Julia & Julia and imagine I'm going to dedicate my life to roasting the perfect cornish game hen, but I work full time and still need time for cleaning the house, paying the bills and raiding the Redbox. Cooking takes time, but I'd like to eat before it's time for the next meal. (Note: crockpot meals get a pass.)
  5. It must be something you've made before and like and can attest that I'll be unlikely to burn my house down or poison myself making. Maybe in the near future, I'll pioneer the perfect searing technique for blowfish, but for now, let's keep it in the realm of possibility.
So that's it. Five rules. I'll do my best to blog about the recipes I make - you know you'll at least get a picture.

Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand. I'm pretty sure that's the kind of miracle it will take to feed me. Order up!

MS & Mrs.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An updated on my sister - she's well and wed.

Since February, when Anna was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), we have continued to learn about the disease, its treatment and how Anna can live the fullest life possible as an MS patient. Shortly after I posted in February, the referral to The Shepherd Spine Center came through and we visited there in March where we met with Dr. Sherrill Loring, former director of the MS Clinic at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. In her opinion, Anna's treatment protocol as recommended by her primary neurologist was a good one. She also said, based on her assessment of the MRI, that Anna could have had MS for five or more years. Though we regret that she was not diagnosed earlier than this, we are grateful that her prognosis is positive. She's responding well to the suite of vitamin supplements, including Vitamin D, folic acid and B12. Bimonthly B12 shots are giving her, well, a shot of energy that keeps the chronic MS fatigue at bay.

Anna also began a regimen of Copaxone, a drug commonly prescribed that both increases the amount of time between relapses and reduces the severity of MS symptoms. But in Anna's case, the medicine was almost worse than the disease. The daily injections were painful, and the injection sites were red, swollen and sore before turning to giant bruises. At her most recent appointment, her neurologist recommended an alternate medication that we hope Anna will be able to take with greater comfort.

Since her diagnosis, she has not had a relapse of her initial symptoms. Which has been good, because she was busy planning a wedding. On July 21, we gathered at Barnwell Chapel on the Berry College campus for a small, sweet ceremony between Anna and Bill. The size of the crowd was no indication for the size of the love, though. It was a privilege to stand beside her as they pledged their love to one another, both radiant with joy. Their happiness outshone a stormy afternoon, and they even gamely dashed into the rain for some creative wedding day photos. From her knighted ring bearer, Sir Dillon the Braveheart, and her flower "thrower" Princess Reese, her whole entourage was honored to be part of the celebration. Not to mention, the red velvet wedding cake was delicious. And as you can see from this candid shot I snapped, she was the coolest bride around.

The Collins now reside happily in Canton where their combined furry family now includes three dogs and two cats. And where I am assured they are getting off to a wonderful start on their happily ever after.